Citizens' assembly on nutrition randomly selected

21. July 2023

On 21 July 2023, Bundestag President Bärbel Bas drew by lottery the participants of the first Citizens' Assembly of the German Bundestag "Nutrition in Transition: Between Private Concerns and State Responsibilities". The Citizens' Assembly, whose composition was thus decided, had developed nine recommendations for action on food policy in nine meetings between September 2023 and January 2024.

19,327 randomly selected inhabitants invited

In mid-June 2023, the President of the Bundestag invited 19,327 randomly selected inhabitants to participate in the Citizens' Assembly. For the selection, 82 municipalities were first drawn by lot and then the potential participants were randomly selected via their registration offices. The deadline for responses was 17 July. By then, 2,220 responses (response rate: 11.5 %) with the wish to participate had been received.

From all the positive responses, an algorithm determined 1,000 possible compositions of a citizens' assembly that met the criteria laid down in the decision of the German Bundestag to set up the mini public. These were intended to reflect the diversity of society. The criteria were: Origin by federal state and municipality size, gender, age, level of education and attitude towards vegan or vegetarian food.

1,000 possible citizens' assemblies compiled

With the help of this information, an algorithm compiled 1,000 possible citizens' assemblies from the registered persons, which were numbered consecutively: No. 000 to No. 999. Each of these 1,000 conceivable citizens' assemblies comprised 160 participants and represented the population in Germany on the basis of the information requested.

From these, the President drew number 187 in the citizens' lottery. The 160 participants of this citizens' assembly came from 64 municipalities from all federal states. They were able to follow the random selection live to see if they had been selected for the Citizens' Assembly and were notified directly afterwards. If individual nominees could not participate in the Citizens' Assembly, substitutes were appointed in such a way that the criteria for composition were still met.

"Parliamentary democracy needs fresh approaches"

On her Instagram account, Bundestag President Bas said: "Our parliamentary democracy needs fresh approaches to strengthen trust in the established institutions. Citizens' assemblies are one of them. They create space for very different people to meet. Everyone can contribute their personal views and experiences. This diversity of opinion enriches democracy and makes the voices of the "silent middle" heard. For us as MPs, citizens' assemblies are another way of feeding back to the people. Citizens' assemblies can build bridges.

Citizens' assemblies have a unique potential to enrich our democracy. But they are no substitute for parliamentary debate. In the end, MPs decide and are responsible for which recommendations are implemented."

Citizens' Assembly started date 29 September 2023

The citizens' assembly began its work on 29 September 2023 and adopted nine recommendations on food policy on 14 January 2024.

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